Oxitec, a spinout of Oxford University that has developed technology to control disease-spreading insects, has been acquired by Intrexon, a company specialising in synthetic biology, for $160m.
Oxitec was spun out of Oxford’s Department of Zoology in 2002 by Isis Innovation, Oxford’s tech transfer office, and is based on research by Luke Alphey, David Kelly and Paul Coleman.
The company developed technology to control disease-spreading insects, such as dengue-carrying mosquitoes. The technology works by creating a new type of the insect which dies before it is able to reproduce, and introducing it to the population, an approach that significantly reduces the overall number of the insects.
Oxitec raised a $10m round in June 2014 led by venture capital firm Oxford Capital Partners and featuring Oxford University, East Hill Management and a range of private investors.
The company had previously secured approximately £11m in funding between 2002 and 2012 from investors including Isis Innovation, Oxford University, East Hill Advisors, Oxford Capital Partners and Asia Pacific Capital.
The UK government’s innovation agency, Technology Strategy Board, provided a grant in 2009 and in 2011, but the amounts remain undisclosed.
Oxford University has seen a £9.2m return from the acquisition.
Linda Naylor, managing director of Isis Innovation, said: “By reducing dengue and other diseases, this Oxford-developed technology can have huge a positive impact on global health.
“The proceeds of this transaction will allow Isis Innovation to continue to invest in the next generation of Oxford technologies.”